5 Reasons My Pastor Loves VBS!

brown2Hey guys.

I’ve always been impressed with my pastor’s involvement in VBS, so I asked him if he would share a bit about why he, as Senior Pastor, thinks being involved in VBS is a good thing.

Here’s what he said:

1. VBS gives the pastor a chance to be directly and almost exclusively engaged with the children in ways that he can’t be on Sunday morning. Reflecting on Jesus’ blessing of the children, one of the easiest ways a pastor can be like Jesus is to be involved in VBS!

2. VBS gives children a chance to see a different side of the pastor which, for many of the children, may be a chance to see how God could call them one day to be a pastor, missionary, etc. This is why I try to be around for the worship rally and make myself available to visit classes to share a Bible story during the week.

3. Nothing can take the place of a pastor’s involvement in the evangelistic emphasis associated with VBS. This involvement is strengthened when the pastor has been a visible part of VBS throughout the week.

4. Pastors can become heroes to the kids in VBS. When an un-churched family member comes with the child for something like a Family night, an involved pastor who has already befriended the child has a better opportunity to connect with the adult family member.

5. When a pastor is involved with VBS he has a chance to interact with all of the adult volunteers who make up the VBS faculty. Again, this is going to be different from the typical Sunday morning interaction. Adults who are giving a week of their time to staff VBS will form a closer bond with their pastor and appreciate his love and attention for the children.

We’re thankful to Senior Pastor Frank R. Lewis of First Baptist Nashville for sharing his thoughts. Does your senior pastor love VBS? If not, maybe you can encourage him with these 5 reasons Pastor Lewis serves at his church’s VBS.

Tangled Branch Treehouse — The Inside Story

brown2Hey guys. Bible Study for Journey Off the Map is gonna be great! We’ll be focused on Jesus and digging into the life of Daniel!
In my last post, I showed you a tiny portion of the set we used for Worship Rally, which was the outside of The Tangled Branch Treehouse. Here’s what the final product looked like:
For Bible Study, the setting is INSIDE the tree house! Maybe you can get a few ideas from what we did.
VBSbiblestudySET (2)
The walls are 8′ tall, the top of the tree is about 10′, the floor is made out of a scrap piece of linoleum. We cut the edges and painted the back side with latex house paint to look like wood flooring.
Sets are fun but hopefully you’ll spend the majority of your time digging into the lessons. ​​We’ll be praying for you as you share Jesus with kids; some of whom may have never heard His name.

Is Jesus Really Enough?

brown2Is Jesus really enough? Another way to ask it is, “Do I need something more or something else in my life to satisfy me, or is Jesus really enough?” 
That question came to mind recently when I was grumbling and groaning about things at home, things at church, things at work, and just about all the other things in my life.  
Colossians 2:6-10 came to mind as well, especially the part that reads “the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him…” I heard a sermon once about “being complete in Him” and “the fullness of the Godhead living inside us.”
2 Peter 1:3-11 came to mind next, especially this part: “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us…”
When I stopped grumbling about things long enough to realize that Jesus IS enough, the things that were causing all the pain and worry didn’t seem so overwhelming. 
So, “Is Jesus really enough?” It’s a simple yes or no question. He either is or He isn’t. I have no clue where to go if He isn’t.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

brown2On the fourth day of Christmas, I’m sharing a really great Pecan Brittle recipe from my cousin in Wyoming! It’s really more like Pecan Toffee. Folks here at our LifeWay Kids Department “Grazing Day” ate it up! (Grazing day is an annual Christmas event—we bring in our favorite Christmas goodies and share the love of good friends and good food all day long, “grazing all the day!”)


Here’s the Pecan Brittle/Toffee recipe:

2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup lite corn syrup
(I know, right?)
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


1. Melt butter. Add other ingredients and cook over medium heat stirring constantly.
2. Cook until cracks in cold water or “crack” stage on candy thermometer (300-305 degrees).
3. Add pecans when candy is almost done.
4. Pour out the minute it is done on 2 pre-buttered cookie sheets (or 1 large sheet).
5. Break into lots of individual, delicious pieces!

I didn’t know how to break it up, so I held the cookie sheet a foot or two off the tile floor and dropped it as flatly as I could. It broke perfectly—with the exception of three big pieces.

Enjoy! And please share your favorite Christmas recipes with us in the Comments section!

New Testaments – Life after VBS!

brown2Hey guys. After loading the 25 boxes of VBS New Testaments into the trunk of this lady’s car, I asked, “So what are you going to do with all these New Testaments?”

“We put them in treat bags at our church’s Fall Festival!” she said brightly. “We invite lots of folks from the community. Many don’t attend church, so it’s a great way to introduce kids and their parents to the Word of God!”

She went on to explain how excited she was about the activity pages and 30 days of devotionals included in the NTs. “They’re so fun and colorful, too!” she added.

Another church drops a New Testament into food bags that they put together for folks in their community. “Its a great way to ‘spread the Word’ to folks who may not even own a Bible!”

Let us know how you and your church use the VBS New Testaments during VBS – and after! We’d love to hear!

Naming VBS 2014

Naming VBS 2014. Here’s how it went down:

1. Prayer – here’s a quote from a guy named unknown - “Prayer does not enable us to do the greater works, prayer IS the greater works.” We pray a lot.

2. Ideation – folks from all over the country gathered at LifeWay to “ideate” VBS themes. Three ideas rose to the top.

3. Splitting into three teams, we hammered out the details—proposing titles, biblical content, rotation site/names, activities, snacks, decorations, etc…

4. Each team did a presentation for the other teams.

5. We prayed. We voted – but we’re still far from a decision.

6. Theme ideas vetted by pastors, children’s ministers, etc… again folks outside the LifeWay walls.

7. Finally, a vote. A decision is made!

8. “…but that theme doesn’t really have a strong name” – “…it just doesn’t seem to say what this theme is really about—given what the Bible content is.” – “Can we talk about the title again?”

And talk we did. For several weeks. I’ve worked in VBS since Kingdom Caper and we’ve never been this far into the creative process and not had a name.

9. We met to decide on name.

10. We met again to decide on a name.

11. We invited more people and met again to decide on a name.

12. We met again. …and again, and again.

13. VBS 2014 writer’s conference comes and goes. Still no title.

Sometimes, waiting is tough but we know, deep down, God has things well in hand. We keep praying.

14. We met again – maybe even one more time, I can’t remember – and finally, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of countless other fallen titles, the VBS 2014 Title emerged!!!

15. We continue to pray as it goes to legal – both inside and outside counsel have to approve it.

16. We get the “all clear” and we’re good to go! WE HAVE A TITLE!

So, without further ado, the official, signed, sealed, delivered title of VBS 2014 is…

Stay tuned! You’re gonna love it!!


Building the ENTER Sign


Hey guys! Many of you asked for a STEP by STEP of the ENTER SIGN seen in the videos and at Preview events so here you go:


12″ Chipboard letters (JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby)

Round chipboard boxes (JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby)

1 panel of high density foam insulation board, 2″ thick

Red latex house paint

Silver metallic spray paint

Jigsaw, fine tooth blade

Hacksaw blade

2 strings of Christmas or patio lights

Painter’s tape

Loctite Power Grab All Purpose Construction Adhesive, clear


EZ Steps:

1. Carefully cut off the front of the letter using an Exacto knife. Use this as template to layout the light bulbs. NOTE: You can buy any letter, A through Z, to spell or make a sign for “Registration” or “Welcome” or whatever you’d like!

2. Spray paint the inside and the edges of the letters with a silver metallic spray paint.

3. Cut the high density foam board to 2’ X 8’.

4. Center the letters and round boxes on the board allowing about 2 inches between each letter. Lightly score a few lines around them to mark their place on the board.


5. Create a triangle at the bottom by striking a 45 degree angle from the bottom left and right corners of the board. This triangle will make the point of the arrow.


6. Measure 2” from either side of the top letter. Strike a line to the bottom left corner of the board and another to the bottom right corner. This will form the left and right side of your sign. (You’re basically drawing the sign around the letters.) Freehand the curve at the top.


7. Remove the letters and round boxes. Using a jigsaw, cut out the sign. If needed, use a hacksaw blade to finish the cut. Sand or file the sides to smooth out any rough edges.


8. Using construction adhesive, position and glue the triangle/arrow in place. Construction adhesive can also be used to fill in the space – like spackling – between the triangle and the arch.

9. Paint the whole thing with red latex house paint. Use the same paint for the outside of the letters.

10. Measure 1″ around the outside edge and tape it off with painters tape.


11. Spray paint the outside edge silver. Be careful to protect the middle ground of the sign using a scrap piece of cardboard or drop cloth.

12. Mark and cut out the holes in the letters and round boxes for the light sockets using an Exacto knife.


13. Remove the painters tape. Use the construction adhesive to glue the letters and round boxes back into place. After the glue dries, use an apple corer, or a 3/4” drill bit, to cut the holes through the board for the light sockets.

14. Take the bulbs out of the light strand. Starting at the top of the sign and the end of the light strand, use your thumb to push the light sockets through the back side of the sign. Bring the socket flush to the inside of the letters. NOTE: Guide the socket through the hole with your index finger—just be sure it’s unplugged first!) Screw the light bulbs into place.

15. Tape off any unused light sockets and tape the loose cords to the back of the sign. Also, tape the easel to the back leaving one leg free.

Plug it in and have a great VBS!